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An Early Look at Kentucky’s Possible Bowl Opponents

We won’t find out Kentucky’s bowl or opponent until December 2, but most projections have the Cats in the Citrus Bowl facing Penn State or Northwestern. There’s a chance Kentucky could drop down to the Outback Bowl or lower if LSU doesn’t get a New Year’s Six Bowl, but it’s more likely than not that the Cats will be taking on the Nittany Lions or the other Wildcats this postseason.

While we wait for the chips to fall, here’s a little bit about each team.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 9-3
CFP Ranking: No. 12
SB Nation S&P+ Rating: No. 13
Losses: 27-26 vs. No. 4 Ohio State; 21-17 vs. Michigan State, 42-7 at No. 5 Michigan

Penn State is led by Trace McSorley, a dual-threat quarterback who was considered a Heisman candidate earlier this year. This season, he has 2,284 yards and 16 touchdowns passing and 723 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. During his Penn State career, he’s thrown and run for a touchdown in 21 games and is the program leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. A three-star recruit, McSorely actually committed to Vanderbilt, but followed James Franklin to Happy Valley, where he’s become the winningest quarterback in program history. He even wrote a thank you letter to Penn State fans ahead of his Senior Day. They freaking love him.

While dual-threat quarterbacks have historically given Kentucky fits, it’s worth noting that the Cats held Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald to only 145 yards passing, 20 yards rushing, and one rushing touchdown earlier this season.

As McSorely goes, Penn State goes. After losing Sasquon Barkley to the NFL draft and hiring a new offensive coordinator (Ricky Rahne), the Nittany Lions’ offense has struggled at times this season. Their defense got embarrassed by Michigan a month ago, but has rebounded since, allowing just 20 points over its last three games (Wisconsin, Rutgers, Maryland). That being said, they rank 72nd in rushing defense, allowing 168.4 yards per game. Back on Nov. 10, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor ran 20 times for 185 yards an a touchdown, which could be a good sign for Benny Snell as he continues to chase Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record.

Also, their mascot is hideous.


Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 8-4
CFP Ranking: No. 19
SB Nation S&P+ Rating: No. 49
Losses: 21-7 vs. Duke; 39-34 vs. Akron; 20-17 vs. No. 14 Michigan; 31-21 vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

Ah yes, a rematch of last year’s Music City Bowl bummer. Gone are running backs Justin Jackson and Jeremy Larkin, who racked up 269 yards and two touchdowns vs. Kentucky last year, but quarterback Clayton Thorson, who was injured in the second quarter of that game, is back, as is linebacker Paddy Fisher, who was ejected for targeting. True freshman running back Isaiah Bowser, who has an incredible backstory, has taken over the rushing attack, with 736 yards and six touchdowns off 161 carries. Somehow, despite four losses — one to Akron — the Wildcats will play Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday, a testament to the conference’s weak West Division.

Northwestern’s strength this season is their defense, which is holding opponents to 21.7 points, 238 passing yards, and 134.7 rushing yards per game. They also lead the nation in fewest penalties, committing only 34 this season. From what I can gather, the Wildcats aren’t spectacular at anything, but don’t mess up enough to hurt themselves.

As for their mascot, as I pointed out last year, Willie the Wildcat is inferior to Kentucky’s Wildcat, but does wear some cool suits.

With a mini-scouting report done, there’s only one more question to ask:


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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

16 Comments for An Early Look at Kentucky’s Possible Bowl Opponents



  1. Bigblue7982
    4:03 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    NW for the revenge.



    • benmac7
      2:15 pm November 27, 2018 Permalink

      Tyler throwing shade at the Nittany Lion mascot? Dude its easily a top 5 college mascot. DHS grads…smh.



  2. Go Deep
    4:13 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    Penn St. it will draw much more national coverage than NW, and would help our recruiting. Which is THE point of bowl games.



    • RAGE
      4:39 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

      I agree with you. Plus PSU will bring even the casual fans to watch the game… Northwestern probably ain’t in the top 3 most watched teams in their own state



    • RAGE
      4:40 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

      Plus you beat PSU is more publicity than playing and winning against Northwesten… and on the flip side a loss to PSU don’t look as bad as a loss to Northwestern



    • unbridled
      10:14 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

      Therein lies the problem. Not sure the cats can beat penn state.



  3. KYCat4EVER
    4:56 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    With our seasons record, success, and ranking, Northwestern is not in our class: not even close! As for revenge? Let’s get it on behalf of Tim Couch and UKs Outback Bowl Loss against Penn State in the late 90’s!



    • SuperTroy18
      6:29 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

      This.



    • JASUN74
      9:01 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

      Sorry, but Northwestern is a very solid program, and have you watched any of their games this year. I have and they are a very good team. We are actually closer to them than we are Penn St. have you took a look at their facilities? It’s beautiful, and they’re putting some serious money into their program. They are bringing in good recruits and have some very good players now. Much better than they were last year. Anyway I think we are better, and can beat Northwestern this year but they are a legitimate football team. That said, I think a win would be better for us, so I’d have to go with Northwestern, but that doesn’t mean I think either team would beat us,! I just think Penn St is a little better than N W. I wouldn’t care much either way though, and will be very excited.. thanks



  4. ClutchCargo
    4:57 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    I want a piece of Northwestern after that sh!t show in Nashville last year. Just leave those officials off the invitation list.



  5. Le Docteur
    5:10 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    My hate for the Complete-Insufferable-Tool that is Franklin is too great. If we play Penn State, I won’t be able to control it.



  6. chris43
    5:20 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    Hoping for Penn State. Let’s see what we’ve got against a blue blood. If we come out on top it should help our program quite a bit. Northwestern again……blah! Boring



  7. Matt10
    5:56 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    Alls I know is after seeing that senior goodbye letter it’s time for football players to wear some damn real pants or a cup or something. That’s friggin disgusting.



  8. east-ky-boy
    7:48 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    Of course penn state has a dual threat quarterback lol



  9. UKfanman01
    7:57 pm November 26, 2018 Permalink

    I want Michigan personally…. Would help us in recruiting much more than NW or Penn St, as we dont really recruit any of the same players